My 2016 Search for a Church

How does someone with more than fifteen years of parish ministry experience search for a church when presented with the opportunity to connect with a community of faith as an active participant rather than serving as a pastor or staff member? In my case the answer is a work in progress. Last September I relocated to North Texas after living in Southwest Florida for eight years.  Immediately, my wife and I started our search for a church. Despite my travel for work, we have managed to Read More …

View from the Pew: 8 Sacred Spaces

Soon after relocating to Texas in September of 2015, I wrote "In Search of a Church," explaining a bit about the process my wife and I were undertaking to find a new community of faith to call our own.  During this process, I have posted a "view from the pew" photo most weeks on Facebook and Twitter. As someone who has spent most of his life working in a church and a good deal of that time in pastoral leadership, my ability to visit other congregations has been limited (and especially limited Read More …

Church Shopping: Not Happening Today

Almost a month ago I preached my last sermon as a Transitional Pastor before relocating across the country to start a new job in healthcare.  This change led my wife and I to begin our search for a church near our new home. The first Sunday we did not attend church as I was busy moving.  The next Sunday my wife and I visited a nearby Lutheran congregation (ELCA). The third Sunday we visited a local Presbyterian (PCUSA) congregation.  Today we will not be in church since I am traveling for Read More …

Mainline: Lacking Racial Diversity

Race related topics have been featured in the news more in recent months than any time I can recall.  Mainline Protestants generally tend to have healthy perspectives on race.  Such philosophical and even theological understandings do not necessarily translate into action (for example: read my summary and reflection of Bradley Wright's recent research showing that Mainline Protestant congregations had the highest rate of discrimination to prospective visitors) nor do they lead to racially Read More …

Retiring Clergy – End of an Era

The youngest Baby Boomers reached retirement age in 2011.   10,000 Boomers a day will hit that milestone every day through the year 2030.  While not all will retire upon turning 65, it is reasonable to expect a good number will retire at some point not long thereafter. Clergy Retirement Boom Charles M. Austin's cover story in the latest edition of "The Lutheran," illustrates the significance of Boomer retirements in the life of the Lutheran church.  More specifically, he cites statistics Read More …

Popular Presbyterians

Last week I happened upon a chart showing how common certain words related to mainline Protestantism appeared in the New York Times.   I was immediately intrigued to see that Presbyterians have received better coverage than others since 1860 and that the use of the term peaked in 1937, appearing that year in 2,149 articles. After determining how to create my own charts, I made one reflecting the names of the four traditions with which I have had formal affiliation:  Christian Church Read More …

Review of Pastrix

Meet the Author Nadia Bolz-Weber is the founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints, a Lutheran (ELCA) mission church in Denver, CO.   Bolz-Weber is known for her non-traditional appearance and approach.  She is the author of two books: Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television (2008) and Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint (2013).   Prior to attending seminary and entering the ministry, Bolz-Weber worked as a stand-up comic. Book Read More …

High School Ministry – Defining Success

Lutheran (ELCA) pastor Rich Melheim is the founder and chief creative officer of Faith Inkubators, which he describes as "a Christian education systems design think tank and resource provider dedicated to incubating faith every night in every home."  In the February 22, 2012 edition of the Christian Century, he answered several questions regarding faith formation as a family matter, including one about high school youth ministry. Q: How do you define a successful church program for high Read More …

A New Day in the PCUSA

The Presbyterian Church (USA) or PCUSA has been in the news more this past week than any time this year.  The denomination officially amended its constitution earlier this year to allow gays and lesbians to serve as ministers and lay leaders. Last Saturday, the Rev. Scott Anderson was ordained as the denomination's first openly gay pastor.  He told CNN: "It's an exciting time for me personally to be the first openly gay person ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and it's a big moment Read More …

Rethinking Religious Rules

This morning I am preaching at Naples United Church of Christ in Naples, FL.  You can read the full text of my sermon, Rethinking Religious Rules, here. For more information about the books referenced visit my review of One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow and my thoughts on The Jesus Creed, which was a part of my Who is Jesus? series. So What? In his recent book, One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow, Scot McKnight writes these words: “Every religious culture multiplies rules (except Jesus’ Read More …